CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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STARVED

Matthew 15 starving
As humans we use the word “starved” to describe what is most needed in our estimation. “I am starving, I could eat an elephant!” I’m sure if we were offered an elephant leg to chew on it we would most likely turn it down. He was “starved” for attention which means he is fully focused on what others are not giving him. She is starving for knowledge so she can excel in her project at work. Many people are starving for love and seek it in all the wrong places. (Old song with some reality.)
 
For weird reasons, I am putting myself in the minds of the crowds who have gathered. They are starved for the words of Jesus. They are starved for his healing touch to make their lives better, new, restored and reconciled. They are starved for a new normal without oppression, pain and disabilities. They want to see, touch, feel, walk and speak. They are starving for freedom. They are starving for Jesus.
Matthew 15 bread passed
Jesus is the answer to the starved without Him. Jesus is the bread of Life and the Living Water to drink. Compassionate Jesus even provides miracles of feeding their physical bodies.
 
AND get this…Jesus feeds the people before they realize they are hungry. Amazing. Amazing love, mercy and grace.
 
Matthew 15
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
Matthew 15 4000
29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
 
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
 
Matthew 15 buy33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
 
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
 
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
 
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
 
Matthew 15 Jesus knows
“THEY ALL ATE and were satisfied.”
Jesus feeds the hungry who are starved for his love, mercy and grace. Jesus. Only Jesus, the Giver and Sustainer of Life.
 
Lord and Savior,
Thank you. Just thank you.
I believe. I am satisfied because of You.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
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FAITH

Do you really believe what you believe is really real?
 
Matthew 15 worshipThis question seems simple and maybe redundant, but is profound when you go deeper into the meaning of faith. Faith is built, brick by brick, step by step, day by day into our being, but the question remains, do we really believe who God is, what Jesus did for us and that His Holy Spirit lives in us? Does fear drive us to deeper faith or keep us from a growing faith? What distracts us from pure, unrelenting faith from the One who created us, died for our sin and abides in us?
 
Do we really believe what we believe is really real?
 
Matthew 15
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
 
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
 
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
 
Matthew 15 824 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
 
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
 
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
 
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
 
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
 
Matthew 15 crumby
WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT FAITH?
Consider this perspective from Warren Wiersbe, Bible Commentator:
 
Our Lord responded to this woman as He did, not to destroy her faith, but to develop it. Her own replies showed that she was growing in faith and unwilling to let Him go without getting an answer.
Matthew 15 great is your faith
When she approached Him as “Son of David,” she was definitely putting herself on Jewish ground, and this she could not do, because she was a Gentile. Of course, this title did reveal her faith in Him as the Messiah of God, for “Son of David” was a name for the Messiah (Matt. 22:42). Since she came to Him on Jewish terms, He was silent. Of course, He knew her heart, and even His silence encouraged her to continue asking.
 
We cannot but admire the patience and persistence of this Gentile mother. “Lord, help me!” was her next plea, and this time she avoided any messianic titles. She came as a sinner needing help, and she offered no argument.
 
In His reply, Jesus did not call her a “dog” the way the Pharisees would have addressed a Gentile. The Greek word means “a little pet dog” and not the filthy curs that ran the streets and ate the garbage. “The children” referred, of
course, to the people of Israel.
 
Matthew 15 faith that getsJesus was not playing games with the woman, nor was He trying to make the situation more difficult. He was drawing out of her a growing response of faith.
 
She immediately seized on His illustration about the children’s bread, which was exactly what He wanted her to do. We may paraphrase her reply: “It is true that we Gentiles do not sit at the table as children and eat the bread. But even the pet dogs under the table can eat some of the crumbs!” What a tremendous testimony of faith!
 
It was this faith that Jesus acknowledged, and immediately He healed her daughter. It is worth noting that both of the persons in the gospel of Matthew who had “great faith” were Gentiles: this Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5–13).
 
In both cases, Jesus healed the one in need from a distance.
Spiritually speaking, the Gentiles were “afar off” until Calvary, when Jesus Christ died for both Jews and Gentiles and made reconciliation possible (Eph. 2:11).
 
This woman’s faith was great because she persisted in asking and trusting when everything seemed against her. Certainly her race was against her: She was a Gentile. Her sex was against her, for most Jewish rabbis paid little attention to women. It seemed that the disciples were against her, and Christ’s words might have led her to believe that even He was against her. All of these obstacles only made her persist in asking.
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Matthew 15 O WomanThe Gentiles glorified Israel’s God, but the Jewish leaders said that Jesus was in league with Satan (Matt. 12:22–24). Our Lord’s miracles did not cause the Jewish cities to repent (Matt. 11:20ff.), yet the Gentiles believed in Him.
 
The very miracles that He performed should have convinced the Jews that He was the Messiah (Isa. 29:18–19; 35:4–6;Matt. 11:1–6). Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile soldier and a Gentile mother. Yet He was amazed at the unbelief of His own people (Mark 6:6).
 
As believers in Jesus, we are “His own”. So let us evaluate our faith with the question we began with today;
 
Do I really believe what I believe about Jesus is really real?
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
My faith grows daily, sometimes by leaps and sometimes by inches. Transform me to be all that pleases you and gives you glory.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
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THEY DON’T WASH THEIR HANDS!

stop and washI wonder how many times we have asked our children, “Did you wash your hands?” When they are young, there is also a follow up question, “Really?” “Let me smell.” Actually, I never really asked for the “smell test”, but I did feel their hands to see if they had at least passed through water. Now add grandchildren to this scenario. If I had a dollar for every time I asked…as my father would say…I’d be rich!
 
As a first grade teacher for many years, this question multiplied exponentially. It was so often asked, I reduced it to code and gesture, holding up my hands in the air with one word, “Hands?” Of course the teacher look accompanied the gesture and the one word. After using the rest room, after a messy project, after playing outside, etc., the question was asked, “Did you wash your hands?” AND this was before COVID. Now, washing our hands is the topic of the day for ALL humans, young and old.
 
washing handsIt was the topic for Jesus disciples, too. Washing hands was a ceremonial production for the Jewish leaders. It wasn’t about ridding yourself of germs with soap and water, it was all about showing how pure you were for all the world to notice. It was a heart issue more than a hands cleansing as Jesus will pointe out.
 
Let’s see how Jesus turned the tables of thinking on the accusation, “they don’t wash their hands…!”
 
Matthew 15
That Which Defiles
 
Matthew 15 ceremonialThen some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
 
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
 
Matthew 15 follow the rules8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
 
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
 
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
 
Matthew 15 hands13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
 
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
 
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
 
Matthew 15 clean heartJesus told the leaders the Truth. Mike dropped.
 
The young disciples were concerned because Jesus confronted the leaders. You can almost hear the fear between the lines as they gather around Jesus. “Ooh, Jesus, you’re making them angry!” “We’ll wash our hands, no big deal.”
 
Then Jesus explained to his disciples and everyone else listening in what he meant. Believe and Follow Truth which is the intent of the Law of God. Do not follow leaders with evil heart conditions who only say and do what pleases them and gives them glory and power. Jesus gives this clearly understood warning for all to hear, including the leaders;
 
“…you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
Matthew 15 see God
But then there’s that one kid in the classroom of life…”Wait, what?” Peter wants and receives clarification and gets it! Jesus explains…It’s about your heart, not your hands! We have to assume that Peter will always ask what the others are thinking, too. I am grateful for Peter, aren’t you?
 
What goes in, comes out. If we feed our hearts pride, selfishness, and other lies, we will behave with related outcomes that are bad for us and all others around us. This is not God in us. This is not truth.
 
Matthew 15 pure heartWash your heart, then your hands. All will be well.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are a selfish, prideful people in need of repentance. Cleanse our hearts and make us holy before you as only You can. I don’t want to be a fake or a hypocrite. I want to be like you, developing your character. Help me to bear the fruits of Your Holy Spirit. Thank you for your patience in our development.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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FAITH MOVES ON TO GREATER FAITH

Matthew 14 foot outHow many of us had all the faith we needed when we accepted Christ and chose to follow Him at the time of that decision? What I’m getting at is this; Did we suddenly possess all the faith within ourselves to never fail or fall back to our own devices? The answer for me is a resounding no. My faith had to be built, as the old hymn, Solid Rock says. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
 
At our rebirth we are all babies in need of growing and maturing. As soon as babies come from the womb we do not put them on the floor, feet first, and expect them to stand and then walk and run. So it is at our rebirth in believing and accepting Christ as Savior. As we begin to walk with Him, we may teeter and fall like a toddler taking first steps. When we fall, He picks us up and holds our hand until we steady ourselves to make more steps on solid ground. Our faith walk matures with each step we make with Jesus as we follow and obey Him as Lord of our lives…the One in charge.
 
Our faith is also built through tragedies, storms and upsets in the normal and begins to move forward the more we trust Him in all kinds of weather in life.
 
Matthew 14
Jesus Walks on the Water
 
Matthew 14 Jesus22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
 
Matthew 14 Jesus saves us25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
 
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
 
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
 
29 “Come,” he said.
 
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
 
Matthew 14 take my hand31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
 
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
 
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Matthew 14 if it is you
The story of Peter’s faith is what is preached most often. But what I see today is Jesus using the storm to build their faith. This lesson was more about faith building, not just about the reprimand, but more about showing them Who He was. Look what happened AFTER the faith building experience of walking on water. They fell on their knees to worship Jesus. No longer impressed with Jesus, He is now their focus of worship!
 
Jesus’ disciples worshiped Him as God’s own son, “Truly you are the Son of God” as Peter and Jesus climb back into the rocking boat upon the rough seas. IMMEDIATELY, the winds of trouble calmed and died down. The work of God did not cease!
 
A lesson in faith believing was learned. With this lesson came follow up ministry, “Oh you of little faith”, but did he ditch the crew? Of course not! Sometimes we think when we fail in faith, the God of creation stops working and is so disgusted with us that He can no longer be with us. A million times no! Our God, whose love is unchanging, is still working on our faith. And He will continue to build our faith until Jesus comes back again.
 
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6, The Message
Matthew 14 walk by faith
Jesus, Peter, and the rest of the storm fighting, faith building crew of men GOT TO the other side of the sea. The mission to seek and save the lost and the ministry to heal the sick continued as if nothing had happened in the middle of the sea to a group of ragtag men.
 
Faith was built. God’s work moved forward.
 
Peter would fall or shrink in faith a few more times but Jesus kept working on Him and knew that He would be the “rock”, the beginning of His church, established after Jesus rose again.
 
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” –Jesus
Matthew 16:17 ESV
 
HOLY PAUSE
 
If our hearts are still beating, God is still building our faith.
Are we moving forward in faith believing?
In Jesus Name, Amen
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MORE THAN ENOUGH

Matthew 14 more than enoughGrowing up in a family of hard workers, I assumed that if you worked hard and trusted God, that would be enough. For me, as a child, it was enough. There was always something to eat three times a day. In our time of living, you didn’t question what was put before you, you just dug in after the prayer of thanks. There would be cake and homemade ice cream reserved for birthdays and other special occasions. Life was pretty simple. There wasn’t a ton of finances to manage but there was always enough, more than enough.
 
I remember church gatherings with a few known-to-be-great cooks providing a ton of food while the rest of us brought side dishes and desserts. Food always seemed to be at the center of our social interactions. Even small groups can’t seem to meet without at least chips and dip, right? And there was always more than enough.
 
010Then I went to Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world. This would be one of numerous trips I would make to this land of giving, beautiful people who I would work alongside in growing churches and schools. On this first trip, I would learn about the culture which included faith, love, work, humility, honor and hospitality.
 
One Saturday, as a visitor to a mountain-side youth retreat, I wondered how the people would be fed in this remote place. Then, by the stream, where livestock were drinking, I noticed two ladies assigned to cook our meal over an open fire. They spent all morning preparing a delicious meal of rice and beans and some fish.
 
014When the meal was served, I noticed I was given the biggest portion in a huge bowl with an enormous metal spoon as a visiting speaker. It was more than enough for me to eat! Lettuce adored the top of my bowl to reveal a whole small fish placed on top of my rice and beans. I was bit taken aback to notice the fish looking at me for fish was whole, roasted, but whole. This was another gesture of honor to me.
 
Everyone watched as I ate. Their eyes full of love wanting me to be pleased. I was so humbled by this experience. When I looked around at all the youth and others gathered, I asked if they had enough because I was willing to share my large portion. All they said was, “we have more than enough”. It would have been rude for me not to eat. All of it.
 
Jesus gives more than enough in this miracle of serving over 5000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread. Jesus is always more than enough.
 
Matthew 14
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
 
Matthew 15 bread passed13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
 
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
 
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
 
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
 
Matthew 14 fish18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Matthew 14 more than enoughJesus is grieving the loss of John, gets away to a quiet place to pray and crowds begin to gather as soon as they spot him. They come from the town and surrounding villages to hear him speak and to see him heal the sick. Jesus is more than enough.
 
Jesus’ heart of compassion spurred by grief over John’s demise coupled with His love for the lost is more than enough to lead Him to action that will give glory to God, His Father, and feed hungry people at the same time. Jesus is always more than enough. His love is amazing!
 
Jesus teaches his disciples an important ministry lesson for their current and future work in the process. “Bring Me what you have” for it will always be more than enough to do what I want you to do. Jesus is amazing!
 
Matthew 14 enough
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this powerful lesson. It will be more than enough for me to think about all day long. You are more than enough for me. Your love is amazing, relentless, unchanging, reckless, overwhelming and humbling. Help me to love like you love.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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JESUS WITHDREW

Matthew 14 Jesus teaches us about griefOur hearts skip beats and our lungs deplete of precious air when we hear of a precious loved one who has died. For a brief moment we are in shock at the news. We can’t seem to move the limbs of our bodies. Our minds forget how to think and turn to mush. “This can’t be” is our first line of defense in what will begin a cycle of grief. We go into a “twilight zone” until the news penetrates our being and we begin to do life on earth without this person until we meet them again in heaven.
 
Matthew 13 GodGod created us to cope with death of loved ones. God gave us Jesus. Jesus was and is our example of how to live abundantly here always preparing for our forever home with God. Jesus left us with help when He left earth after experiencing AND defeating death, rising again, to go back home to prepare a place for us! In the meantime, Jesus gave us with His Holy Spirit to comfort us and remind us of our blessed hope. Jesus, Savior and Lord, is our hope now and after the death of our temporary bodies.
 
Matthew 14 serving in sorrowWhat happens when we feel people are taken from earth all too soon? The shock goes deeper still as we try to come up with reasons why they died. But that is not a place to dwell.
 
We grieve for believers all over the world who are martyred for their faith in Jesus. We try to deny it, but it happens. Each one of those who die are someone’s father, mother, brother, sister…or cousin. John the Baptist was not only the one sent by God to prepare the way for the Jesus “whose shoes he was not worthy to tie the leather laces”, John was the cousin to Jesus. John was family.
 
Now read the news that is told to Jesus about John.
 
Matthew 14 – John
Matthew 14 HerodAt that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
 
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
 
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
 
Matthew 14 Jesus withdrew13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
 
We learn from Jesus that it is okay to withdraw to a place and grieve and be comforted by the Holy Spirit. We also notice that withdrawing is not a place to dwell. Our strength to cope and move forward, one step at a time, is in the hope we have in Jesus Christ, knowing we will see them again!
 
Matthew 14 Jesus withdrew toJesus will help us in grief to move forward in our thinking and behaviors as we look forward to our own heavenly home. He will love us in and through the pain. Grief is a condition of coping here on earth without the persons you love dearly. It is reassuring that Jesus knows exactly how we feel and will help us navigate the cycles of grief. We will never forget the people who have gone on before us but we can live productive lives while knowing who we loved is now waiting for us in heaven.
 
There are so many promises from God that gives us help, hope, and assurance in loss. Withdraw for a moment to remember those promises. His Word gives strength.
 
EPILOGUE – HOLY PAUSE, SERVING IN SORROW
Matthew 14 anxious
A crowd gathered where Jesus withdrew. His grief turned to compassionate, miraculous ministry in feeding the 5000 plus people who came to hear him speak of God that day.
 
Withdraw. Rest. Focus on the God who loves, saves, rescues, helps, nourishes, matures as well as comforts our souls.
 
Maybe we should allow God to use our grief to make us more tender and compassionate to others.
 
Matthew 13 prayingDear Heavenly Father,
You have me a new perspective this morning from your Word. You grieved. You cry when we cry in pain. You know exactly how we feel in loss. You know just what we need when we need it and you provide. For all your promises and what you have done in my life, I humble bow to thank you and then rise up to praise you. You are God of all. I love you with all that is in me. That you for teaching us, even in grief.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…
 
My Jesus knows just what I need
Oh yes! He knows just what I need
He satisfies and every need supplies
Yes, He knows just what I need
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YOU CAN’T GO BACK HOME

Matthew 13 rejection but strongThere is an old saying that probably originated from this passage, “You can’t go back home”. Not all people stay in their home towns. After high school or college, the job market may take them to another city in another state or merely across town.
 
People who leave their hometown make new friends and develop ways to do life in different ways. They learn in their workplace, develop new skills and generally thrive in their new life. In other words, most people grow up. They look different and are different. Why? Because change is certain and constant. We are not, (praise the Lord), the same people we were as goofy kids who didn’t always do the right thing.
 
However, to those who knew as as kids, who still live in the neighborhood where we played, still think of us as “that kid”.
 
Jesus experiences “you can’t go home”, too.
 
Matthew 13
A Prophet Without Honor
 
Matthew 13 Jesus rejected53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
 
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
 
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
THIS IS WHAT REJECTION LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE…
 
Matthew 13 used by GodJesus grew up in the streets of Nazareth. Two things amazed the people of Nazareth: the Lord’s words and His works. However, they did not trust in Him, and this limited His ministry. What caused the people to doubt Him? They were too familiar with Him in a human way, for He had grown up in their neighborhoods, went to the same synagogue school to learn with their boys and played with their kids. It was a case of knowing Him as human flesh and blood while not having the spiritual discernment that God gives to those who will yield to Him (Matt. 11:25–30). These hometown people walked by sight and not by faith.
 
But, if His own friends and family did not trust Him, what hope was there that the nation would believe on Him? Early in His ministry, Jesus had preached at Nazareth (Luke 4:16–31) and had been rejected, and now He was rejected again. This was His final visit to Nazareth; those villagers had no more opportunities. Jesus would be known as “Jesus of Nazareth,” and His followers would be called “Nazarenes,” but Nazareth would not receive Him.
 
Matthew 13 fear of rejectionHOLY PAUSE
Rejection by anyone is hard, but from those we knew as beloved family and friends stings. When we face rejection, know that our LORD knows deeply what we feel.
 
How must we handle rejection and ridicule from loved ones and friends? Do what Jesus did. Be who you are now and move on in what God, our Father, has given us to do. Love them. Pray for them. But move along to accomplish God’s will.
 
How can we cope with rejection?
 
Who is our help?
 
Who understands most of all to a greater degree than anyone else on this earth?
 
The answer to all three questions is Jesus! He is our constant help and deliverer. Our help comes from the Lord. God, our Father sent Jesus, the Rejected One, to save us!
 
Camp on that blessed thought!
 
FROM KIDS TO GROWING FAITH-WALKERS…
 
Matthew 13 my eyes
I am reminded of Psalm 121, that I was required to memorize as a 5th grader. No, I did not go to a private school. My public school teacher, a Godly woman, said this was a “piece of literature” that would give us peace in life. She was right. This teacher was one of many influential people in my life who dared to be a difference in many lives. She passed on the joy of teaching to me along with the boldness of faith.
 
Here is where our help comes from for life:
 
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
 
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
 
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
 
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
 
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
 
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
 
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
 
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
Psalm 121, KJV (the only version of the Bible we knew of at that time!)
 
Matthew 13 my helpDear Heavenly Father,
I thank God for this teacher who instilled the importance of Your Word and YOU as a help to us at an early age in my life. I thank God for parents and grandparents who lived faith in You in front of me. I thank God for many other mentors who accepted your call to influence my life and others. Thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul and giving me Your Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, convict, challenge and keep me focused on You. When I forget, you remind me of your constant help. When I am rejected, you are there to comfort and move forward in faith believing. Oh Lord, I have nothing but humbled gratitude for you this morning.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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JESUS GAVE ALL TO FIND US

Matthew 13 hidingMatthew 13
The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
 
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
 
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
 
THINK ABOUT IT
The sinner does not find Christ; Christ finds the sinner. No sinner is able to pay for salvation, even though he sells all that he has. The pearl represents the church.
 
Matthew 13 handsUnlike most other gems, the pearl is a unity—it cannot be carved like a diamond or emerald. The church is a unity of God’s created who believe what Jesus did to save us. (Eph. 4:4–6). The church is the product of suffering. Christ died for the church (Eph. 5:25) and His suffering on the cross
made possible her birth.
 
A pearl grows gradually, and the church grows gradually as the Spirit convicts and converts sinners. So, in spite of Satan’s subtle working in this world, Christ is forming His church. He sold all that He had to purchase His church, and nothing Satan can do will cause Him to fail.
 
There is but one church, a pearl of great price, though there are many local churches. Not everyone who is a member of a local church belongs to the one church, the body of Christ. It is only through repentance and faith in Christ that we become a part of His church. True believers seek to identify with a local assembly where they can worship, learn, grow to serve together, pointing always to Jesus’s saving grace.
 
The Parable of the Net
Matthew 13 net47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
 
49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
 
“Yes,” they replied.
 
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
 
JESUS SHARES THE END OF THE JEWISH AGE
 
Matthew 13 pearlThe preaching of the gospel in the world does not convert the world. It is like a huge dragnet that gathers all kinds of fish, some good and some bad. The professing church today has in it both true and false believers (the parable of the weeds)
and good and bad.
 
At the end of the age, God will separate the true believers from the false and the good from the bad. When Jesus Christ returns to earth to fight the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11.), He will separate believers and unbelievers already on the earth.
 
When Jesus had completed this series of parables, He asked His disciples if they understood them, and they confidently replied, “Yes, Lord.” Understanding involves responsibility. To explain this, the Lord added a final parable (Matt. 13:51–52) to remind them of their responsibilities.
 
HOLY PAUSE – LIVE TRUTH
 
Matthew 12 WordAs believers, we do not search after truth, because we have truth in God’s Son (John 14:6) and God’s Word (John 17:17). We are taught by the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) who is truth (1 John 5:6). We search into truth that we might discover more truth. We are scribes—students—who sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words. One joy of the Christian life is the privilege of learning God’s truth from God’s Word. But we must not stop there.
 
We must be disciples who LIVE Truth. “Therefore every teacher who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven” is a more accurate translation of Matthew 13:52. The teacher emphasizes learning, but the disciple emphasizes living. Disciples are doers of the Word (James 1:22.), and we learn by doing.
 
It is difficult to keep our lives balanced. We often emphasize learning at the expense of living. Or, we may get so busy serving God that we do not take time to listen to His Word. Every teacher must be a disciple, and every disciple must be a teacher. (See also 2 Timothy 2:2)
 
James 2 faith and deedsAre hearers AND doers of God’s Word?
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
You sought us out as valuable, the pearl of great price, to Your Kingdom. Thank you. Help me to not only be but to do your will on earth as it is in heaven. May Your Kingdom come and live in me and through me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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SEEDS AND WEEDS

Matthew 13 flowers
I love to garden. I love to plant new seeds and watch them grow. I love to water and nurture the new plants that grow and bear beautiful blooms or even fruit or vegetables. But, I don’t love the weeds.
 
Matthew 13
The Story of the Sower – SEEDS
 
Matthew 13 sowingThat same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
 
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
 
11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
 
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
 
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
 
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
 
AT THIS POINT…
Matthew 12 grain in sunJesus turns to His disciples who have been called from their old life to a new relationship with Him to explain the meaning of the story. They have given up everything to walk and talk with Him. They lean in on every word, seeking what they know has been missing from their lives. They want to hear to understand. They want to see to perceive clearly. They love Jesus. Jesus knows their hearts and knows of their longing. He knows they are ready to hear and understand.
 
Jesus knows the crowds have mixed emotions and motivations. They come to Jesus to see what He will do or what He will say. He is the new novelty in town. At this point in Jesus ministry, he knows the people that gather are merely impressed with Him. He is becoming popular for healing, telling stories and teaching like no one has ever heard quite like this. But do they really believe? Are they ready to understand his true mission to save them?
 
Those who believe and follow Jesus, see and hear what He is really saying with a new understanding and thinking that regenerates their hearts, minds and souls.
 
THE SOWER
Matthew 13 seeds16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
 
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
 
AT THIS POINT…
We begin to understand the point of the parable. Not everyone who hears and repents (turns to God and away from the worldview thinking and behaving) will work to deepen their faith. The sower throws out the seed, but not all of it will grow well. The seed that goes into good soil and gets all the nourishment needed will grow healthy and strong. Good Soil Seed will multiply with more seed to be thrown!
 
Jesus built His church to be SEEDS of faith who live out His Word. We are to be a people in unity who not only live as seeds of faith, but do our part to provide the good soil, an environment, in which new believers (more seeds) can grow and thrive.
 
WEEDS…
Matthew 13 weeds and flowers24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
 
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
 
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
 
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
 
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
Matthew 13 stickersWhen we come together to live life on this earth as God’s church, it is not our work to judge who will be fit for heaven and who will not. We must realize we will also live among the weeds of worldview thinking and behaving. But God will take care of the evil’s weeds growing among the believers in His time and in His way.
 
Our work is to avoid the weeds of the devil at all costs. As believers we must dig in and stand firm, allowing our own roots to go deep into the good soil of faith. Choke out the weeds, not the seeds! We don’t want to give into the shallow growing weeds of evil that try to overcome us. Within ourselves we are created to produce more seeds to be thrown so others can can know and grow in Jesus, too.
 
WHAT ONE TINY SEED OF FAITH CAN DO…
The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast
Matthew 13 faith31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
 
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
 
34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
 
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
 
JESUS EXPLAINS THE WEEDS
Matthew 13 weeds36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
 
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
 
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
 
NO MORE EXPLANATION NEEDED, RIGHT?
 
Jesus is the Seed Sower. We are the Seeds who believe, grow, love, walk with Him in His ways, and bear more seeds to be thrown until all come to know, believe, accept and follow Jesus.
 
Satan is the Weed Thrower. Weeds of evil and thrown out among the Seeds of Truth to sprout and grow quickly with the sole purpose to choke out all believers who dig deeper into the Good Soil of God’s Ways. Beware and alert to the Weeds.
 
Matthew 13 plantingThe angels of God will do the weeding when the Time comes.
 
Lord,
Thank you for being the sower that produced seeds of believers who led me to You. Thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for Your Word that explains Life in You. Thank you for helping us to stand strong even among the weeds that are thrown to hamper our growing love for you. May our roots go deeper still because of our reading, hearing and seeing with understanding for Your Word today. You are Sower, I am the Seed. Help me avoid the Weeds.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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YOU MEAN IT COULD BE WORSE?

Matthew 12 signs and more
As we travel on vacation, trying to get to our new destination, we look for signs along the way so we don’t lose time in getting there. We like signs. Great signage gives us the assurance that we are going where we planned to go. We believe in signs. We rely on signs. But our passage today reveals that asking Jesus for yet another sign to prove who He is reveals only our own unbelief in Him. Be careful asking for a “sign” from Jesus.
 
Jesus has already performed miracles for all to see. Isn’t that a sign of His power and deity? Jesus draws people from all walks of life to Him. He looks people in eye with mercy, compassion and grace. Isn’t that a sign of His love and character? Jesus teaches with authority like no one has ever heard…not even the Teachers of the Law at that time. Isn’t that a sign of His knowledge?
 
When the Pharisees ask for yet another sign from him, wanting to see an encore of his tricks actually, Jesus responds….
 
Matthew 12
 
Matthew 12 give me a signThe Sign of Jonah
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
 
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. Matthew 12 Jonah42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.
 
43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
 
Matthew 12 sign1. Prophet Jonah preached to a wicked nation and they repented.
2. “From the ends of the earth, a Queen of another nation came to Solomon for wisdom and received it.
3. Jesus came to seek and to save lost people. The leaders did not believe. Rather they sneered, mocked, harassed, beat the Savior of the world and eventually nailed Him to a cross to die. Ah, but Jesus defeated death and rose to life giving all who believe blessed hope for eternity with Him. THERE’S your sign.
 
Jesus reveals to these wicked leaders how it will get worse in the end for all who do not believe. Jesus is the Victor. All who believe in Jesus will be victorious with Him forever. Those who do not believe and follow Him will receive destruction and eventual death.
 
YES, IT COULD GET WORSE FOR UNBELIEVERS
 
Matthew 12 what signJesus revealed the evil hearts of the religious leaders and teachers of The Law. We can connect these verses with Matthew 12:24–29. Satan’s “house” is the body of the person who is possessed by the demon. It appears that the demons are restless and seek bodies in which to reside (Matt. 8:28–31). When the demon left, this man’s life was changed for the better, but his life was still empty. When the demon returned, he brought others with him, and the man’s life ended in tragedy.
 
The primary application is to the nation of Israel, especially that generation present when Jesus ministered on earth. The nation had been purged of the demon of idolatry, which had plagued them in the Old Testament. But reformation was not enough.
 
Reformation could cleanse, but it could not fill. The nation should have received the Savior and been filled with spiritual life. Instead, the people rejected Him, and the end was destruction.
 
There is a personal application. It is not enough to clean house; we must also invite in the right tenant. The Pharisees were proud of their “clean houses,” but their hearts were empty! Mere religion, or reformation, will not save. There must be regeneration, the receiving of Christ into the heart (see Rev. 3:20). We cannot be neutral about Jesus Christ.
 
Matthew 12 choose wiselyHOLY PAUSE
 
“CHOOSE this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). It’s a matter of life or death. Do not be merely impressed with Jesus and ask for signs to prove only our unbelief. Repent and ask Him to take charge of all, every detail, under His leading. Find Jesus. Follow Jesus.
 
Do we really believe that what we believe is really real?
 
A STORY IN THE STORY
Even Jesus’ family had trouble with fully believing in Him and His mission from God, the Father…
 
Matthew 12 choose46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
 
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
 
Matthew 12 hellEven our Lord’s earthly family did not fully understand Him or
His ministry (John 7:1–5). Some of His friends thought He was mad (Mark 3:21). But Jesus did not want the honor that comes from people. While He was not disrespectful toward His physical family, He did emphasize the family of God.
 
Note His use of the word whoever (Matt. 12:50). This paralleled His beautiful invitation in Matthew 11:28–30, where He encouraged all to trust Him. If the nation would not receive Him, at least individuals within the nation—and among the Gentiles—could trust Him.
 
Matthew 12 bow to Jesus
Who will be in the promised kingdom?
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
 
ALL who believe.
 
Dear Lord,
I believe. What would you have me do to help others find and follow you today?
In Jesus Name, Amen
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